Thursday, March 19, 2015

50 States Against Bullying: CONNECTICUT

The forty-eighth stop on my 50 States Against Bullying campaign was supposed to be my thirty-ninth. You can read what became of that original visit right here (it contains lots of snow, one shredded tire, and absolutely no Rob Zombies).

But, as promised, I came back! If I had more time, I would love to have taken a tour of Mark Twain's home, but I settled for this Lego replica in the airport (which did not include a tour).

When I pulled up to Watertown High School, I looked out at the football field to the remnants of what kept me from speaking here last time. It's almost gone now, but they're expecting more snow tonight. Fortunately, I've already given my presentation. So take that, Mutha Nature!

Near the entrance of the library was a poster highlighting several quotes from Thirteen Reasons Why. It's always fun when people quote the book. Usually I can remember writing and obsessing over that particular phrasing. Other times, I don't remember writing it at all and end up feeling impressed with myself ("I sound like a real author!").

Another board displayed student-chosen phrases about the value of writing and why kindness matters. These are students after my own heart! Our job, adults, is to encourage them to never get jaded.

With a five-plus week delay, it was wonderful to finally speak to these students. They had created a video to introduce me, with thirteen students describing what the book meant to them. As I told you, these people were after my heart!

My visit concluded with a nice pasta lunch with several of the students. And by "nice" pasta lunch, I mean there was an actual chef! Nice, right? When our bellies were full, we got into several great conversations, including one about movies. Whiplash and Perks of Being a Wallflower were specific favorites. And here's the night I told them about that made many of them jealous. Truthfully, it would've made me jealous if I wasn't there. But I was!


I also love hearing about specific scenes in my books and why they meant so much to a reader. They're often scenes that, had I needed to trim the book, would have been the first to go because I didn't fully understand them myself. Yet I could feel that those scenes were important (for some reason) so I wrote them down. Another thing I love is when a female reader admits they picked up my first book reluctantly, not believing a man could understand things from a teenage girl's perspective. That's something I hear a lot! In fact, many people who don't like the book attribute it to the fact that I'm a dude and couldn't possibly understand. But I guess we all have different philosophies based on our experiences. In the case of the student at Watertown High who reluctantly read my book, I changed her mind. Woo-hoo!

What a beautiful world.

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